It was the first time Jack has been to such a place where there were more books than open space in a house. It was a clear violation of the government recommendations, but it was inevitable in Noah’s case. His eyes stuck at a book title which looked different, which was The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis.
“How come they didn’t take this one away? I thought they had gotten rid of everything related to religion?” Jack inquired.
“No, this one didn’t qualify as a Christian text, devotional book or religious work. It is just an existential work of fiction”.
“Are you actually on dope, or did your brain just fail you?”
“I had to make a good payment to make a few brains fail. They cleared it as existential fiction, along with Camus’ The Outsider and Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. It used to be the most widely read devotional work next to the Bible. It used to be considered a classic. Has any religious book other than Bible been translated into more languages than this one? I don’t think so”.
“Thomas à Kempis should be proud. Is this the last copy of the work, or does anybody who share your interests have another copy? Or have you another one for yourself?”
“I haven’t really bothered about it. Actually, there is something special about this copy. Just take it and have a look”.
“Christian [T7Z44], Chief Mechanic, The Settlement 47 (Imperial), Titan. Sometimes faith is all you got. Have faith. Hold it close to your soul” read Jack from the first page of the book. “This should have belonged to a strong believer of the 2080s after the colonization of Titan”.
“I don’t think that he is just another believer. There must be something more about him. The destruction of Titan and Mars seems to have made the situation a little more complicated, as it is more difficult to get any information from the archives. They have erased the two colonies from the records so that the people will move away from their past which includes religion and spirituality. I still have a few papers which were used as bookmarks in this book. They are small letters which seems to have used an encrypted language and I guess I can make something out of them. I have been trying to decode them, so that I can get something which would help my later progress towards restoring the faith in this world of lies”.
“You have already started planning? And I never even felt so”.
“What do you think about coffee?”
“The most prestigious and the official drink in the city-state. All the coffee is now artificially produced and the people are forced to pay for it and drink the same five times a day at a high cost, with a price which is even higher than fresh air. Eighty eight percent of the coffee in the Imperial Firmament is owned by Acheron, and this business makes him the richest person in the city, nine hundred and eighty seven times richer than the second ranked billionaire. Without it, he might still be three hundred and fourty three times richer than the second, but still coffee makes his business strong enough”.
“The more important thing is that the loss of coffee industry would be a big loss for him, considering the fact that he has identified the drink with nationalism, patriotism and his government. It would cripple his ability to control the middle class.”
“So your plan is to deny the common man their daily coffee? Well, they might be denied air and water, but Acheron will make sure that they will still get the coffee”.
“What do you think about the coffee vents that go to each home?”
“Made of Titanium and coated with Kevlar. One of the most powerful carriers of any medium in the city. You will never get through it”.
“That is exactly what I want. Once I block the flow of coffee and ensure an incredible supply of tea through those vents, they shouldn’t be able to stop it in the middle”.
“So that is how you plan it. Now I know why you changed your workplace for a lesser pay and a lot of working hours”.
“Exactly. I already work in the vents. The beginning of the coffee vents is just above my working place. It is going to be a very easy job. The best part of it is that I would automate the whole procedure before I submit my resignation. Nobody would ever come to know. The coffee vents are also the least checked areas in the city, as nobody would expect a sabotage of the coffee supply. I would easily finish the job and get another job”.
“And what about the large quantity of tea? Where can you find them? You know there is only little tea available in this world of capitalist coffee”.
“Tea is the drink of the common man, unforced and true. I have been getting a lot of it from outside the city, imported as coffee. They have been made to smell and feel like coffee, but not taste like it. I have had some contact with the outside world through encoded messages. They have already sent me enough to make an impact”.
The plan had shocked Jack, even as he didn’t show it. He had considered Noah as a man who had too many thoughts and no action. He was clearly a man of few words, and he had kept himself close to the rules on the outside. Jack had thought that he would do nothing significant in his whole life, and here he comes with an idea which is going to make a difference, even if there was no certainty what kind of a change it would bring to the Imperial Firmament.
To be continued…